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Is Pride Toronto’s city funding on the chopping block?

Rae attends meeting at mayor's office day before council resumes

UPDATE April 1, 2pm: Funding for Pride Toronto did not appear on today’s or yesterday’s city council agenda. Meanwhile, councillor Kyle Rae says he’s not pressuring the city to restrict Pride Toronto’s funding (see comment exchange, below) and instead is trying to make sure it remains in place.

A meeting was called at City Hall on March 30 to discuss Pride Toronto, according to Stuart Green, the mayor’s deputy director of communications.

Details of the meeting, held at the office of mayor David Miller, are not known, but the briefing was attended by city councillor Kyle Rae and the city’s executive director of culture, Rita Davies.

Attempts to reach Pride Toronto to confirm its involvement — or lack of — at the briefing were unsuccessful. Requests for interviews with Rae and Davies were also unanswered by time of writing.

In an email obtained by Xtra dated March 29, Rae threatened that the City of Toronto could take action against Pride Toronto for failing to oust Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in advance of the parade.

“The City of Toronto must ascertain if the city’s policies concerning anti-discrimination are compromised by QuAIA’s rhetoric and messaging,” Rae wrote.

In 2009, Pride Toronto received close to $175,000 in support from the City of Toronto, through three separate programs. In 2008, it received $189,000.

City council’s next meeting is scheduled for March 31, with another for April 1 — in which the topic of Pride Toronto funding is expected to come up. Additionally, budget meetings set for April 15 and 16 could further address funding for the event.

On March 10, Pride Toronto announced that participants would be required to vet signage with an ethics committee prior to the parade. That announcement sparked outrage in the queer community and was retracted two weeks later.

A Facebook site, Don’t Sanitize Pride (which attracted more than 1600 members), applauded the move, while a March 24 Toronto Sun article questioned whether city grants recipients (like Pride Toronto) should be “held accountable” for the funds they receive. That prompted speculation about a review of this year’s event funding, worth roughly $120,000 a year to Pride Toronto.